Randomized controlled study of OA publishing

From: Phil Davis <pmd8_at_cornell.edu>
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2006 17:01:12 EST

Dear Readers,

We are in the process of conducting a randomized controlled study=20
of Open Access publishing to ascertain if free-access to=20
scholarly articles increases readership and citation impact.

To date, the limited numbers of empirical studies have employed=20
methodologies that do not control for potential biases and=20
competing explanations. A citation advantage may be the result=20
of increased access, but may equally be the result of higher=20
quality articles being published as OA. By using a randomized=20
controlled methodology, we will be in a stronger position to=20
attribute a citation advantage [if discovered] to increased=20

During the feasibility stage of our study, we will be partnering=20
with the American Physiological Society and experimenting with=20
eleven of their journals. Another of their journals allows=20
author-supported OA publishing will be used as a control. We=20
will be studying the performance of these articles, in terms of=20
article downloads and citations, for the next four years. If the=20
running of this experiment goes smoothly as predicted during the=20
next few months, we hope to expand our study to include journals=20
from other publishers and disciplines. Below is a letter that=20
has been sent out to future authors of APS articles.

We are very grateful to the American Physiological Society for=20
allowing us to experiment on their journals, and to the Andrew W.=20
Mellon Foundation for their financial support in this study.=20
Both groups are fully dedicated to the integrity of the=20
scientific approach.

--Phil Davis

Dear APS Author,

You are receiving this email because you will soon have an=20
article published in the [Name of the Journal]. The American=20
Physiological Society will be participating in a randomized=20
controlled study to investigate aspects of open-access=20

During 2007, a small number of articles randomly selected from=20
those accepted by participating APS journals will be given=20
immediate free access status. This means that anyone in the=20
world will be able to access these articles free of charge=20
without a journal subscription. Articles not selected will=20
continue to be published as normal =96 these articles will be=20
available to journal subscribers for the first 12 months and made=20
freely available thereafter.

There is some evidence to suggest that articles given free access=20
upon publication have a different pattern of citations over time,=20
yet the details have not been rigorously studied using a=20
randomized controlled methodology. To assist us in this study,=20
we will be partnering with researchers from Cornell University=92s=20
Department of Communication. We do not believe that=20
participation in this study poses any risks to authors of=20
articles published in APS journals. Participation in this study=20
is completely voluntary, and you may drop out of this study at=20
any time by sending an email to opt-out_at_the-aps.org, or by=20
contacting one of the researchers. Please include the authors=92=20
names, the title of the article and the title of the journal it=20
is being published in.

The APS is committed to providing the highest quality publishing=20
and services, and rigorous studies such as this will help us=20
better serve the interests of our authors and members.

Martin Frank, Ph.D.
Executive Director, American Physiological Society

Margaret Reich
Director of Publications and Executive Editor, American Physiological Socie=


Philip M. Davis, M.L.I.S.
PhD student
Department of Communication
336 Kennedy Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York 14853
Email: pmd8_at_cornell.edu
Phone: (607) 272-5461

Bruce V. Lewenstein, Ph.D. (P.I.)
Associate Professor of Scientific Communication
Department of Communication
321 Kennedy Hall
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853
Email: b.lewenstein_at_cornell.edu
Phone: (607) 255-8310
Fax: (607) 254-1322
Received on Sat Dec 16 2006 - 20:51:34 GMT

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